How some retail businesses are thriving in uncertain times

It’s easy to assume that all businesses are struggling right now, but the truth is that many small and independent product businesses are actually seeing record sales.

Last week, the Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke tweeted that their platform was seeing incredibly high levels of demand, higher than Black Friday. And Shopify is predominantly home to small and medium sized retailers, supporting the idea that there are many of these who are seeing buoyant sales.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

This blog outlines four characteristics of businesses that are thriving right now.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

1. They are not acting as if it’s business as usual⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

If you’re on the mailing list for some of the bigger retailers, you might have noticed that several of them are somewhat missing the mark when it comes to relating to their customers.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

But small businesses have an advantage – they can share their own personal stories about how life is for them RIGHT NOW. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Businesses that are thriving are sharing these stories to make the connection, but in a positive way. If you’re struggling with what to say – start by meeting your customer where they are and share your life too.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

2. They share their stories

Successful product businesses right now are the ones that share their story and values with their audience.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Take Lucy and Yak for example – as an ethical clothing brand, they went a whole step further with the idea of knowing who made your clothes and have their tailors in India sew a numbered tab into the leg of each pair of dungarees.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

This week, as part of Fashion Revolution week, they shared a page on their website that showed you a photo and description of who had made your dungarees (thank you Tailor 27 for mine!).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Conscious consumerism has been growing in momentum as a movement for the past couple of years and I don’t believe that Covid-19 is going to slow it down. People are going to continue to want to buy products that have a story and a purpose rather than just more “stuff”.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

So what does that mean for you? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Are you sharing your business story? Is it on your about page, as a highlight on your Insta bio? Are you talking about it regularly to your customers? ⠀Share your values, tell your story and show your customers that by buying from you, they are buying from someone who shares what’s important to them.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

3. They show up and remain visible⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

In practical terms, what does that mean?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

a. At the very least, sticking with a regular marketing schedule. Not sure what to say? Brainstorm ideas in 30 minutes so you have a bank of content instead of staring at a blank screen when it’s time to post.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Can’t maintain what you were doing before? Set yourself up a slimmed-down posting schedule, and stick to that. Consistency beats quantity.⠀

b. If you’ve been thinking about paid advertising, or have begun to dabble, then why not go for it right now? Many small businesses are seeing amazing results from paid ads, helped by big businesses pulling back. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

c. In the words of Lucy Wern and her excellent book, now is the perfect time to “hype yourself”. Steph Douglas, founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers is a great example of a founder who has been staying visible – sharing her story and how her business has been doing on several platforms.

Press is really focused on hearing small business stories right now, there’s no better time to get out there and share your story.

4. They have fantastic products that people want

The best sales strategy is a great product strategy. Businesses that are thriving right now are the ones that have great products that people want to buy. In some ways, it really is as simple as that.

And they aren’t holding back from releasing new products either. Customers are still looking for something new and exciting.

So if you’re struggling, take another look at your products and ask yourself if they are as perfect for your customers as they could be. Spending this time right now developing or sourcing new products is a great way to help you come back stronger when the time comes.

In summary – meet your customers where they are, tell your story, show up, take action and focus on your products to help your business be one of those that are thriving right now.